Chow gets one more throwdown as rivals peg her as candidate to beat
Published Wednesday, May 17, 2023 4:10PM EDT
Olivia Chow’s rivals are continuing to pile onto the Toronto mayoral front-runner days after the first major debate which saw several of them going after her.
In the latest challenge thrown down Wednesday, former longtime councillor Giorgio Mammolitti said he’d like to take on Chow one-on-one in a debate.
Comparing Canada’s largest urban centre to the fictitious and crime-riddled city patrolled by Batman, Mammoliti said Toronto has become a “woke Gotham.”
“I'm staring you down right now. You and me in a debate,” Mammolitti told news cameras in a challenge reminiscent of World Wrestling Entertainment, before going on to rail against Transgender people reading to children.
Most polls place Chow somewhere north of 30 per cent of decided voters, while Mammollitti has not typically polled high enough to be included on the surveys, which generally incorporate candidates garnering around five per cent support or higher.
But the challenge is emblematic of the latest moment in the race.
“I think you meant all of them,” Chow joked when asked by CP24’s Jamie Gutfreund Tuesday how she felt about some of the candidates directing questions at her in the first major debate a day earlier.
“I’m not surprised. I think I was connecting with people well, and so maybe because it's a front-runner thing? I don't know. But yeah, they went after me,” she said.
According to University of Toronto Political Science Professor Nelson Wiseman, going after the front-runner is what pretty much every candidate in a very crowded pack of candidates needs to do.
“You want to separate yourself from the rest of the field,” Wiseman told CP24. “The way you do that is by taking on the front-runner. It’s a waste of time attacking the others.”
In light of that, Wiseman said, he was "surprised" that Mark Saunders didn't take part in the debate.
“I think he's gonna have to participate (to catch Chow),” Wiseman said.
While Toronto has been plagued by poor voter turnout in recent elections, Wiseman predicted that this election could be different because there is an open race and a strong roster of candidates.
“I think it's actually going to be higher because it's a wide open race,” Wiseman said. “Everybody knew (John) Tory was going to win last autumn. There was no mystery there because mayors don't get defeated. This is an open race and also, you’ve got this whole left-right dynamic going on.”
He added that it's still "early days" in the race with nominations having just closed last week and that it's possible someone else could pull ahead yet.
“If anybody else becomes the leader in the polls — let’s say (Mark) Saunders or (Josh) Matlow — they (the rest of the candidates) will go after that person, and they'll forget Chow.”